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An Oakland judge arrested during a March prostitution sting is on medical leave. Judge Jackson “Jack” Gifford, 76, underwent major surgery last week to address an ongoing heart condition, his attorney said. Since then, the judge has suffered from complications and will be off the bench for “at least” a month, said Walnut Creek attorney Michael Cardoza. The judge’s heath problems were not linked to his legal woes, but “I’m sure that this has not helped,” the lawyer added. Before Gifford’s health deteriorated, the judge was on a month-long vacation following his March 3 arrest. Oakland police videotaped the judge as he agreed to pay a police decoy $40 for sex, police reports say. Gifford, who was one of 21 suspected johns snared that night, ultimately pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace and paid a $270 fine. As part of the plea agreement, Gifford avoided two years’ probation, which is standard for such cases, attorneys have said. Earlier, Gifford’s attorney predicted that the judge would decide whether to return to the bench in early April, when he returned from vacation. That decision is on hold until Gifford’s health improves, Cardoza said. “At that time he will make a decision about whether he will stay on” or retire, he said. The courts were closed Wednesday, and Presiding Judge Barbara Miller could not be reached for comment. Gifford could also face investigation and discipline charges by the Commission on Judicial Performance. Gifford has notified the commission about his health problems, Cardoza said.

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